What Is Skull Shining Breath?

Clear your mind & energize your body with Skull Shining Breath…

Shining Skull or Skull Shining Breath (Kapalabhati) is an energizing yoga breath technique that is often used in Kundalini yoga classes. This breathing exercise is a great way to energize your body, clear your mind, and prepare for a workout or other type of activity that requires energy and focus. It’s also an excellent way to wake up in the morning and get ready for the day ahead and is believed to boost confidence and open the Crown Chakra.

According to YogaJournal.com,

This practice is said to “make the skull shine” by cleansing the nasal passageways and sinuses, and ultimately supplying the brain with a fresh supply of oxygen-rich blood. It also cleanses the throat and lungs and stimulates the abdominal muscles and organs.

While this pranayama practice is often confused with Breath of Fire (also common in Kundalini yoga practices), in fact, they are two slightly different techniques. While these pranayamas are both dynamic practices that increase oxygen to the brain and body, clear the head and sinuses, and engage the core, they are typically practiced for slightly different reasons.

Breath of Fire is often done on its own or can also be used to boost energy for a Kundalini kriya or exercise. Skull Shining Breath is more commonly used to clear the mind and increase focus before a difficult mental or physical task.

The main difference between the two techniques is the length and nature of the exhale and inhale. In Breath of Fire, you will want to focus on keeping the inhale and exhale the same length and intensity. However, in Kapalabhati, the exhale is the focus of the exercise. It is longer and more forceful, while the inhale is passive and should occur naturally.

However, both techniques have a wide range of benefits and they are similar enough that they can be used interchangeably if desired. Besides the benefits mentioned above, practicing these Pranayama techniques may offer the following, according to this article:

  • Releases toxins
  • Expands lung capacity
  • Strengthens the nervous system
  • Balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
  • Powers up the third chakra
  • Increases stamina
  • Energizes blood flow and circulation
  • Delivers oxygen to the brain, resulting in improved focus and a natural state of calm awareness
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Aids in digestion
  • May improve longevity when practiced regularly, according to yogic tradition

Skull Shining Breath should always be practiced on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours after eating. Listen to your body and if you feel dizziness or pain in your side or begin to feel tired, stop. Over time, you will build stamina and be able to practice for longer.

This is a vigorous exercise, and should not be practiced by those with high or low blood pressure, coronary heart disease, glaucoma, inner ear problems, or those who are prone to frequent nosebleeds.

How to Do Skull Shining Breath:

  • Sit on a folded blanket or cushion so that your hips are elevated above your knees, with your legs in a comfortable, cross-legged position. Keep your spine erect and stable but relaxed.
  • Place one hand on your lower belly. Breathe normally and focus on the feeling of your belly expanding beneath your hand, then sinking inward towards your spine.
  • When you’re ready, raise your arms above your head to make a Y-shape and place your hands in whatever mudra you like.
  • Quickly contract and pump your belly to push the air out, then relax your belly and allow the inhale to happen naturally. The face should remain relaxed throughout the exercise.
  • Do this in-out sequence 10-15 times and stop. This is 1 cycle.
  • Repeat for 25-30 cycles, and you can gradually increase up to 100 cycles if you wish.

Practicing Skull Shining Breath regularly, even for just a few minutes at a time, can be very beneficial. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

 

Sources:

https://www.anandayogafitness.com/wellness-blog/2017/12/9/breathwork-basics-kapalabhati-breath-of-fire

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/learn-kapalabhati-skull-shining-breath/

https://yogapractice.com/yoga/the-10-best-yoga-breathing-exercises/

 

 


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